Calgary, Alberta--An era that began 37 years ago ended and a new one began with the Metropolitan Community Church�s general conference, held in Calgary July 21 to 26.
Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of the primarily LGBT denomination, stepped down as its moderator in a speech on July 21.
Perry, who turned 65 the day after the conference ended, began planning for his resignation three years ago to ensure a smooth transition of power. Rev. Nancy Wilson will assume the position of moderator.
Wilson, who in 1976 became the youngest elder in the church, was vice moderator for a decade. She has served in churches in Michigan, California and Massachusetts, as well as in Florida, where she currently lives with her wife, Paula Schoenwether.
Perry�s tenure as moderator will end on October 8 at a retirement celebration in Los Angeles. Wilson�s six-year term will begin the following day.
She will be officially installed in her position on Saturday, October 29 during a three-day meeting at the National Cathedral in Washington. Thirty years ago, the cathedral barred the denomination from using its facilities.
During the installation weekend, MCC�s new ten-year strategic plan will be unveiled.
Titled �Focus on the Human Family,� it is expected that the plan will continue to focus on reaching out to other faiths to ensure acceptance of LGBT people, while also concentrating more on reaching youth and other justice work.
Perry founded the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles following a devastating break-up and a suicide attempt. A female preacher friend of his next door neighbor came and talked to him after he had slashed his wrists with a razor blade. She told him many things about himself that he thought she had no way of knowing, and informed him, �God has a ministry for you. You are going to pastor a church.�
He brushed the idea aside repeatedly, knowing that he would not be accepted as an openly gay man. Perry, who preached on street corners a youth, had already been kicked out of two Pentecostal denominations.
However, as he saw continued injustices against the gay community in Los Angeles, he began to believe that it might be feasible to form a church for the community.
On October 6, 1968, he held his first worship service for eleven people.
The denomination now has 43,000 members in congregations on six continents, including ones in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Granville and Toledo.
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